Patrick Painter

John Sonsini

24 Jan - 21 Feb 2015

© John Sonsini
Luis & Emilio, 2013
Oil on canvas
80 x 96 inches (203.3 x 243.8 cm)
24 January – 21 February 2015

Patrick Painter, Inc. is pleased to present a solo exhibition featuring new work by Los Angeles painter John Sonsini. The exhibition will showcase new pieces in the artist’s on-going dialogue with expressionistic portraiture.

For Sonsini, portraits are not only about what you see, but what you don’t see. He favors models who occupy spaces far removed from high art. His penchant for hiring Hispanic day laborers to sit for him has given rise to a body of work that defies the viewer’s understanding of portraiture. His subjects are often placed against abstract, pastel backgrounds, setting the scene for the interesting play between masculinity and vulnerability. Though not overtly political, Sonsini’s paintings invite us to look beyond the prototypical day laborer, the impoverished immigrant, or the disenfranchised urban youth, and ponder the unseen life they lead.

With their oversized shoes and hands, we are reminded that society characterizes these men by their work. Their clothing, rendered in broad, expressive strokes, is often generic and vaguely uniform. Plain polo shirts, blue jeans, and beat up sneakers tell us that these are not men of leisure. Skateboards, wallets, belt buckles, and hats give us glimpses into their world, while boxes and luggage hint at a recent “move”. However, these accoutrements give us only part of the story, and raise even more questions. We are confronted with an underlying tension found in the disconnect between how we define them and how they define themselves.

This is John Sonsini’s first exhibition with Patrick Painter, Inc. Sonsini’s work is currently on view in Los Angeles at the Museum of Contemporary Art, and the Autry National Center of the American West. He has had recent exhibitions at Bentley Gallery in Phoenix, AZ (2013) and Inman Gallery in Houston, Texas (2013). His work is included in major public collections such as the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C., the Guggenheim Museum in New York, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.